Monday, October 26, 2009

Professing themselves wise...

Cynicism can be a cheap imitation of wisdom. It means, by definition, to doubt the good of things. The cynic does not think critically and carefully like the sceptic, the cynic dismisses and derides things as worthless. The cynic may consider themselves too wise to be taken in and fooled into believing in anything. And the cynic may think themselves wise and yet become a fool.
To the cynic, anything uplifting or good cannot be true. For sure, sometimes it is necessary to look at things carefully so that we're not deceived. Satan is the arch deceiver. It ( I can't use a personal pronoun like 'he' for something so vile) had its first ever contact with God's children in the Garden of Eden by causing them to doubt God's Word. And the modern approach is to say 'How can a loving God let bad things happen?' etc. The answer is that God does not control us all like little puppets and a lot of the bad things that happen are the fault of humans who make or let them happen. They are not God's doing at all. And if God does not stop disasters like cyclones or earthquakes, that might be because humans choose to ignore Him. Also God does not promise a rose garden, He promises comfort and salvation. But the cynical approach of the 'enlightened intellectual' scorns the idea. They say it is too good to be true. They compare the idea of a loving God to the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. The cynic therefore will not afford themselves the joy that they could receive, and worse, they try to deny it to others.
To themselves, the cynics of this world are too clever to believe in such things. But if they were really so clever, they could see the awesomeness of God in the good things that do happen, even in the midst of the bad. Trouble is, that would be embarrassing to them. It seems clever to just rubbish it all.
So the cynic will let their own 'wisdom' stand between them and coming to know the living God. It is easier to be destructive and contemptuous because it excuses their own mean ungiving behaviour. One author I admire put it this way: "We cannot endure the goodness of God". (Glendon Swarthout in "Bless the Beast and Children."
So the cynic turns their face away from the wonder of God's love and grace, and thinks they are being clever to do that. As the Bible itself says, "Professing themselves wise they became fools."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Distractions to see through.

Checking the ninsemen news, I hear about a marriage celebrant refusing to marry a mixed-race couple. The husband was black, the wife white, and they had to find another celebrant. His reason was, 'he always thinks of the children'.
It didn't quote any Christian principle. If it did, that marriage celebrant should be reminded of what God revealed to Peter as described in Acts chapter 10: God does not exclude any race from His Kingdom or His presence. We are ALL made in His image.
Racial prejudice is not from God. It is a vexatious delusion suffered or perpetrated by some humans.
The celebrant's stated reasons were that marriages between the different races do not last and the children of them are not accepted by either race. If anyone can tell me whether or not it's true that inter racial relationships fail more often than others, I can only say that I never knew that before. There should be no reason why people can't love and live close to those of other races - not if we see what is really human. About the children, I hope that's not true nowadows. Is that view a bit out of date? In Australia, and (I thought) the U.S. there are so many people who are 'biracial' that it's not an issue anymore. Please correct me if I'm wrong. But I blogged not long ago about Muhammed Ali visiting Ireland, because one of his great-great grandfathers came from there. And I'm sure it was reported recently that one of Michelle Obama's great grandfathers was white, as well. Come to that, who has NOT heard that the U.S. president has a parent from each race? So how do we get this attitude that such children can't get a life?
It is a shame that race has become such a huge issue. If you think about it scientifically, in purely genetic terms, race is just a matter of adaption to the environment that humans have undergone. It's well known that darker skin is an advantage in a very hot sunny climate. Narrow deep set eyes, as seen in some Northern Eurpoeans, are an advantage in a climate where there is cold wind. My own ancestry is mostly Scottish, English, and some German and French. People used to tease me about having small narrow eyes. And the reason is my ancestors lived in a cold windy climate and God is His wisdom gave them physical characteristics suited to that environment. In biological terms that is all race is: a physical type suited to the place where people of that type live. Or their ancestors did.
Of course different races, and nations, may have varying cultures. But culture is a learned thing. Far too much is made of race as a distinction or a barrier between people. It is regrettable. Nowadays, when the races are so widely dispersed and so mingled, it should be clear that we are all equally human. But for some reason too many people want someone to look down on. It is a distraction that Christians in particular need to see through. Racial characteristics are God's gift to His created beings so that they can cope with living in a certain set of conditions. They are NOT the way He decided to make some of them 'better' than others. It's easier to talk than to do, I realize. But correct me if I'm wrong. There is NO good Christian reason for objection to inter-racial relationships.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The past is another place

All the raging over Roman Polanski brings a few interesting arguments to light.
As some people say, if Polanski was not famous and widely admired then there would not be so many people standing up for him. If he was an obscure person found years after getting away with what he did, few people would bother taking his side. So why does being talented and famous excuse something pretty nasty?
On the other side, people say he has suffered a lot in life already. True, but that doesn't help his victim to cope with what he did. Too much excuse making for the wrong-doer goes on already.
It's worth noting that the young victim's mother put her in that situation, where she was at the mercy of an adult who did this. Was the mother so fixated with making her daughter a show-biz success that she put the daughter at risk? So much for the shallow view of life that without being rich and famous life is not worth living.
My own ten cents worth is this: in some ways, Roman Polanski's behaviour was symptomatic of the seventies. If you recall the 1960s and 70s, or read about them, it wasn't all as good as some people say. What was called the 'sexual revolution' aimed to break down all taboos about sex, and 'liberate' people. What actually happened was some important social restraints were broken down. Very young people became sexualized. On the one hand, they were encouraged by parts of society to 'experiment', or 'find themselves', or 'discover their sexual identity', and all that. On the other hand, they were no longer considered off-limits for such involvement. Those who raised any objection were howled down as 'fascists' or sick repression cases.
Too see the seventies from inside, look at what they produced. One famous and widely read novel of that period was "Papillion", by French author Henri Charriere. In the novel, (though not the film), the narrator describes seducing his 13 year old sister in law. While living with Venezuelan Natives, he marries a woman and also has her younger sister. At the time, this was widely admired literature, considered a modern classic. The school where I worked had copies for student reading. Nowadays, that passage from the novel would be considered a glamorization of paedophilia.
A famous film of that era was 'The Summer of '42', in which a fifteen year old boy is sexually initiated by an adult woman. At the time this too was considered fine artistic entertainment about a young man's 'awakening'. Today, the female lead character would be considered criminal.
But that was the 70s. Anything except openly coercive rape was legitimate. It was 'liberated'. If a person regretted any sexual involvement afterwards, they were accused of being too 'hung up' or 'inhibited' and in need of getting used to it. I'm utterly sure there were people living in the 1970s who thought an adult enticing a 13year old into sex was simply 'liberating' them, helping them get free of their 'hang-ups'. That was the 70s. There were psychologists who had intimate relationships with their patients, and called it part of the therapy. There was a lot of interest in Sweden where, it was said, children as young as 13 sometimes had children and even married. That was the 70s.
So what Polanski did was criminal, right enough. But he might not have considered tyring it on in a different social climalte. I believe that some of the so-called 'progressive' thinkers of the time have a lot to answer for. They tried to tell us all that we should do whatever we wanted and 'be free'. The idea of ethical restraint in sexual behaviour was ridiculed.In that sort of climate, there were probably a lot more incidents like the one for which Polanski is indicted. Some of them involved female adults on male children. Some of those pointing fingers at Polanski now were probably jealous at the time that he did what some of them would have liked to. That sounds harsh, but it might be true all the same.
The 1970s was another place from today, and in some ways a much worse place. People in millions scorned the notion of God holding out guidance for living, thought they had better ideas and made a shocking mess. Polanski might only be a symbol of much that was wrong with that era.
We need to get back to God's way. When that gets forgotten, the results can be dreadful and the realization too late.