Archives For April 2016

25th April 2016 007Anzac Day comes with a caveat.

Absent of any understanding about what causes war and the case for just-peace. Absent of the moral restraints of the message about Christ’s act and command to love God and love one another as we love and care for ourselves, Anzac day becomes a celebration of chaos, not life; a day of hero-worship, not sincere remembrance and gratitude.

We surely remember the sacrifice of our ancestors, but with it we remember God’s summons to hear the importance of His commandments that empower us to stand against the continuing brutality of war. It’s because God comes to humanity that this word can be received as true word. A word we did not speak ourselves. A word that we’re encouraged to test and try out, because God is not insecure about who He is or anxious about what He has planned.

Anzac day is for humanity to stand before the past, under God, towards the future. It’s a time to mourn, a time to recollect, a time to reconsider and lament the effect of war.  Not only on those who didn’t return, but on those who did.

Traditionally, on this day Australia and New Zealand commemorate, not war, or the sins of it, but engrave, through Christian prayer, a deep gratitude and remembrance, of and for, the freedom and life given by those who sacrificed their lives to give it.

But, Anzac day comes with a caveat.

If we jettison Jesus Christ from Anzac day, our remembrance spirals into the worship of chaos, hatred of our enemies and as it deteriorates into the empty worship of our ancestors. Without the Prince of Peace and those He represents, Anzac day has no real message of peace or hope, only war, the hype and devastation of it.

This is exemplified by the words of Anti-Nazi German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who in 1932 preached to a solemn gathering of Germans,

‘when the church observes Memorial Day, it must have something special to say. It cannot be one voice in the chorus of others who loudly raise the cry of mourning for the lost sons of the nation across the land, and by such cries of mourning call us to new deeds and great courage. It cannot, like the ancient singers of great heroic deeds, wander about and sing the song of praise of battle and the death of the heroes to the listening ears of enthralled young people. On this day the church stands here so strangely without ceremony, so little proud, so little heroic. The Church is like the seer of ancient times who when all are gathered… is wholeheartedly present but suffers because he sees something that others do not see and must speak of what he sees, although no one wants to hear it…the one who loves most is the one who sees deepest, sees the greatest danger. A seer has never been popular. That is why the church will also not be popular, least of all on days like this.’[i]

“Jesus is victor.”

Any real human victory begins in Him.

In no other way and by no other name can Anzac day be what it should be, a time and place when our hearts are directed, not towards human ideological constructs of peace, but towards the Prince of peace and therefore towards just-peace. Our memory and treatment of those who gave up their very lives for us is only enriched by this. Our mourning turns into hope, as we hear from chaplains, pastors and Christians, throughout both nations, at most remembrance services, we are asked to carry away with us the challenge of the message of just-peace.

‘Memorial day in the Church! What does it mean? It means holding up the one great hope from which we all live, the preaching of the kingdom of God. It means seeing that which is past, and which we remember today, with all its terrors and all its godlessness, and yet not being afraid, but hearing the preaching of peace […] Now pass on the message of peace, for the sake of which their death had to be, and preach it all the more loudly.’ [ii]

The one whose own broken body was laid in a tomb guarded and then, against, and to the shame of the chaos and all that stood in proud victory over Him, was resurrected from the dead.

Any real human victory begins in Him; all just-peace follows the Prince of peace who was judged become judge.

‘Where the power of darkness wants to overpower the light of God, there God triumphs and judges the darkness.’ [iii]

Any real peace follows from the one who is peace, not the one who through media, machine or human, only gives lip service to it. Or who through a mask of peace seeks through a will to dominate, only to expand a human empire.

The importance of Christian participation in Anzac Day is the reminder that peace comes to humanity from outside itself; from outside our ability to save ourselves. Through conviction, through just-justice, through covenant, through commandment the chaos is answered with purpose. It’s lifeless ‘mass, rebellion and tumult against true life is conquered, transformed as the One who ‘hovers over it speaks [and because He does, decisively acts].’[iv]

Jesus the Christ doesn’t seem to be. He is, was and will be.

That is our starting place and EVERY Anzac day what was once their march, but is now ours, must begin and end here.

For as Bonhoeffer noted:

‘wherever the word of Christ is truly spoken, the world sense that it is either ruinous madness or ruinous truth, which endangers it’s very life. Where peace is really spoken, war must rage twice as hard, for it sense that it is about to be driven out. Christ intends to be its death […] Memorial Day in the church means knowing that Christ alone wins the victory! Amen.’ [v]

Sources:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D 1932 National Memorial Day, Berlin, Reminiscere, Feb. 21,. In Best, I. 2012 The Collected Sermons of Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  Fortress Press

[ii] ibid, (p.21)

[iii] ibid, (p.17)

[iv] Bonhoeffer, D. DBW:3 Creation and Fall: A theological exposition of Genesis 1-3, (p.41) [parenthesis mine]

[v] Bonhoeffer, D 1932 National Memorial Day, Berlin, Reminiscere, Feb. 21,. In Best, I. 2012 The Collected Sermons of Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  Fortress Press (pp.20 & 21)

More experimenting with a piano, layered over guitar tracks. What makes this complete track unique is the absence of drums. Like my previous instrumental, my aim was simplicity.

Translated, kyrie eleison is an old Christian prayer associated with liturgical worship and Jewish prayer, which means: Lord, Have Mercy. At once and the same time, it’s a trusting and humble call, full of the joy of expectation at the coming of God’s promised response.

‘Jesus told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people:
“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home-made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
Luke 18:9-14 (The Message (MSG)

May we, in our own hearts, heed the zeal of the tax collector and a stand guard against the self-righteous fanaticism of the Pharisee.


Sidenote: Just a reminder about sound quality. At the moment, I’m only work with audacity; a free mixing software, my laptop, an amp, an app and my guitar.

Reagan quote

 

In other words: with the increase of power, so comes a potential decrease in intelligence.

Think of the game total war. With the increase of lands and territory comes the difficulty of being able to govern it all. There’s the inevitable unrest as one area complains about higher taxation than the newly acquired lands. Attempts to balance these out are futile. The end result is that I either send in a highly paid army (that I can barely afford to re-position from the borders of my total war campaign) and implement total control or I side with the rebels. In which case I lose power and choose total, civil war.

To be true, the game mechanic is structured to keep things interesting. It bends against even the most kind among the known world’s rulers. All of my glorious intentions to keep my glorious nation (I mean glorious empire) together fell on the sword of the quest for ever more glorious power.

Still, I can’t escape the implication: with the increase of power, so comes the potential decrease in intelligence. Intelligence does not increase with an increase of power or privilege. In retrospect, my glorious leadership of this burgeoning in-game empire was, as I saw it, benevolent. Why on earth would my subjects want to oust me? I improved their material wealth, even though I may have drained other areas, refused a crusade, jihad or two and squashed a few ”insignificant” uprisings, in order to make more and more glorious my conquests. All done for my glorious peoples.

The point is this: even the most utopian of glorious leaderships will fall. Complex politics reflects humanities complexes. It’s what C.S Lewis outlined when talking about the tyranny of self; something he pinpoints sharply in is, 1948, essay called ‘The Trouble With “X.”

‘I said that when we see how all our plans shipwreck on the characters of the people we have to deal with, we are ‘in one way’ seeing what it must be like for God. But only one way. There are two respects in which God’s view must be very different from ours. God sees how all people in your home or your job are in various degrees awkward or difficult; but when He looks into that home or factory or office He sees one more person of the same kind – the one you never do see. I mean, of course, yourself.That is the next great step in wisdom – to realise that you also are just that sort of person […] Unfortunately, we enjoy thinking about other people’s faults: and in the proper sense of the word ‘morbid’, that is the most morbid pleasure in the world.’ [i]

Lewis’ advice on how to combat this is,

‘Abstain all thinking about other people’s faults, unless your duties as a teacher or parent make it necessary to think about them […] Not even God with all His power (for He made it a rule for Himself not to alter people’s character by force. Although, He can and will alter them – but only if the people will let Him) can make “X” really happy as long as “X” remains envious, self-centered, and spiteful.'[ii]

Jesus enters this discussion with the words,

‘If anyone would come after me, let him [or her] deny [themselves], take up [their] cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’ (Luke 9:23, ESV)

Total War may just be a simulation. Nothing but pixels and a few hours of harmless interaction with history. However, the message of its experience extends out towards knowledge of truths that have been heard and acknowledged here in the comments of Reagan, the admonishing words of Lewis and instruction from God Himself.


Source:

[i] Lewis, C.S 1948 The Trouble With “X”…, 2000, Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, Harper Collins (pp.357-360)

[ii] ibid.

Thanks Word Art 16th April 2016It’s three years since I started this blogging adventure, or so WordPress has just reminded me. The main aim for this blog was to have it serve as a resource for notes, material and other items related to my field of study and interests. My goal was to have it function as a searchable index for my own academic pursuits and as an index for other students on a similar road.

Since then, it’s morphed into what it now is, a mosaic of Christian theology, politics, poetry, art, homeschool reflections and music.

I had originally anticipated connecting with like-minded and not-so like minded people in the blogging community;networking with those who are networked, reading those who’ve read more, hearing from those who’ve advanced beyond my own academic situation. I won’t say that this hasn’t happened, but it’s interesting to reflect on the interaction on other blogs and wonder where, and what, I might need to improve in order to better achieve my original goal.

Like most anniversaries it’s prompted me to think about whether this studious effort on my part has been worthwhile. I’m left with thinking about how much of this blog actually serves to inform and glorify God, and how much is just mere noise? How much of it is just me giving in to the temptation of competing with far better blogs for an audience. Blogs that are the product of people with more time, more resources, more support and lesser responsibilities.

Blogs are not everything for writers and musicians. Although, I concede that writing and maintaining one helps. Which is why I’ve continued to maintain the high standard I set for myself with this blog’s content and referencing.

So, it’s in the spirit of “review, review, review”, with its questions and doubts, that I leave you with this thank you and a tentative farewell.

For those fellow bloggers who read this blog without expectation of quid pro quo; for those who’ve taken the time to interact, even intermittently, with me over the past three years, and to those who have put up with my own [sometimes essay length] comments on their own blogs, and who have also made the effort to comment and encourage me on a regular basis here, I THANK YOU!

For this guitar playing, part-time student/full-time homeschool dad/theologian, your encouragement is like gold.

All the best.

Rod.

Flint & Steel

April 8, 2016 — 4 Comments

Our old church had a hall, which would have had to have been built in the 70’s. It had wooden floors and an old style wooden stage with an unmistakable wooden smell. It’s the hall my wife’s parents generously hosted our wedding reception in. The look of it gave out a charm difficult to put into words.

Our church’s worship practice sessions would begin at 3pm and lead up until the 5pm service started. Led by Pastor Beel, with his acoustic guitar, a list of original tunes and a bunch of young musicians, brought together not just by talent, but by a love for God and an affection for music.

It’s with this in mind that I took to layering the song to the hilt. The sound is part reminiscence, part tribute to the Jesus Music of the ‘70’s. An era that church hall has always reminded me of.

My aim was to create an “atmospheric” jam: try to imagine a bunch of musicians rocking up at an old Church hall; all slowly finding their spot, and then settling in to jam out a “Jesus Music” tune.

The atmosphere would be electric; the whole scene powered by joy and the eclectic.

The title comes from the Rev. Charles Spurgeon.

It’s located in his small book, ‘Flowers From a Puritan’s Garden.’ I’m slowly moving my way through it and this week’s read was about prayer and perseverance.

To me, the music reflected the lyrics, which wasn’t planned. So, I figured that I’d include part of the text that grabbed me in the video and post the text in its entirety here:

 “God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again.”
That is to say, God will hear prayer, but he may not answer it at the time which we in our own minds have appointed; he will reveal himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations.
Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication. In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last. Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things?
We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promise at our back.
Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing his arrived.
Ask in faith, nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the king delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready: you will get a light before long.[1]

 

The things I’m particularly happy with, is how the title fits the music; being able to draw a connection between the song and Spurgeon tops the “too cool” list.  Next would be the bass riff, the piano and the wah.

Jesus music lives.


 

*Side note: this is the first song I’ve added piano. It also happens to be the first time I’ve ever played piano on a track.

Music and images are mine. (RL2016)

Source:

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1883). Flowers from a Puritan’s garden, distilled and dispensed (pp. 181–182). New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

Landed on this quote this morning. Kinda made me smile on the inside.

 

Barth Quote p211 CDII_2

 

Have a great week.