Thursday, March 29, 2012

Internal Medicine

All right, I'm still on the metal kick that was mentioned last week, and one of those odd juxtapositions struck me.  I recalled an old metal album entitled Pierced From Within.  The album cover featured a rotting corpse strung up with a ring of large spikes projecting out of it's gut.  Yummy, I know, but there is a point.  Last week we talked about the war that we all face and fight, particularly our internal battles.  That picture seemed exceptionally appropriate to follow up with the war imagery.  Those battles we fight can grow inside of us, getting larger and larger, sharper and sharper, pushing their way out, ripping through our bodies, not only causing us our own pain, but even making it impossible for others to come near us to help as the pointed spears create a wall around us.  Sometimes we forget about the internal front in spiritual warfare.  We try and bury those seeds of thought and action deep inside, only to have them sprout through all the compost we cover them with.
As I was working on this, I had to make a run, and when I started up the van, Seventh Day Slumber's song "From The Inside Out" was playing, a not so subtle reminder that the spiritual positives work the same way.  Our armor isn't built up by piling more on the outside, it's built up by growing layers on the inside.  Outer armor is often like the whitewashed sepulchers Jesus referenced.  Armor built up from the inside, with much prayer, study and fellowship, grows and makes its way to the outside, not quite as painfully as the impaling spikes, but it still starts from the inside. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Prepare for's prepared for you.

I've been on a metal kick lately, and in that kick, the war imagery that permeates Christian and secular metal of all genres has been sticking out.  Secular bands dig into the violence and gore of the battlefield, along with the pride of victory and agony of defeat, while Christian bands tend to use the imagery as a metaphor for the spiritual battles we face.  The question that comes to mind is if such imagery is appropriate in the Christian realm.
The Old Testament is replete with not just war imagery, but real war as Israel both acted as the means of God's judgement on the various people occupying the Promised Land and as they faced judgement for breaking God's covenant.  Along with the historical books, the prophets and psalms use battle and weapons to illustrate the conflict between not only God and the world, but the internal spiritual battles mankind fights.
The New Testament moves away from the physical war, with Jesus setting an example of pacifism.  However, as Jesus was approaching his arrest, He instructed the disciples to buy a sword if they did not have one, indicating that there is a time to fight.  Later, Paul uses the reference to both the weapons of our warfare and the full armor of God to describe the struggle between the Christian and the world, and how those struggles are to be handled. 
That is the clincher here.  Anyone who has been honest about their struggles with sin, whether it's lust, addiction, anger, doubt, or any of the long list of what we fight against inside knows it is a war, period.  Anyone who is honest about the struggles we face trying to show and convince the world about the truth of Christ knows it is a war, period.  These aren't spiritual debates (though they may be worldly ones) they aren't board games, they aren't book reports, these are nasty, vicious, bloody, fights to the finish.  It's barely even a metaphor to describe the need for swords and shields to win these battles. 
I think while we need to maintain Christ's example of not engaging in unnecessary worldly battles, the pendulum has swung a bit too far, with too much focus on being a door mat for the world, with not enough honesty about how our struggles, both internally and with the world need to handled.  It can be very easy to take the mindset too far the other way, focusing too hard on the battle and not those weapons and where we get them from, or be looking for the worldly victory over spiritual ones.  But we can't win the battle if we walk into it prepared to flip tiddlywinks, either.    

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why Rush Shouldn't Have Apologized

Rush Limbaugh made some comments about a young lady who stood in front of Congress to explain why the Jesuit affiliated college she is attending should be forced to go against their firmly held, consistent beliefs against birth control and provide it to their students.  One of the specific comments was that contraception costs $3000 a year, leading Rush to speculate about how much activity this women and those going through that much birth control a year are engaging in.  The left and the media (redundant I know) pounced, some sponsors bailed, and Rush took the high road and apologized.
I absolutely believe there was no good reason for him to do so, for several reasons.  First, the man was expressing an opinion.  Where did we get this ignorant idea that everyone's opinions have to be nice, or even that we have to accept those opinions?  I work in a prison, and get all kinds of nasty words thrown about referring to me and the other C.O.'s, kitchen workers, teachers, and every other employee.  Do I get to raise a stink to earn a apology?  Do I deem the comments worth even reacting to 99% of the time?  Do their words really mean a hill of beans to me?  The answer to all three is no.  Ms. Fluke went publicly in front of Congress, and made some very bold statements about a controversial issue, among those statements some of questionable validity, like the $3K annual cost, or the idea that these students and employees have no other option for their birth control methods then through their school, who is opposed to such things. 
The second reason is very related.  Google Bill Maher and Sarah Palin, then Louis C.K. and Sarah Palin.  Those are just two examples of some of the sick, nasty things that have been spewed at Palin by left leaning folks, and only examples of what was thrown at her, never mind the horrible things said about other conservative and Christian individuals.  Then you can easily delve into viscous attacks on organizations, ideology and people groups from various individuals, groups, media organizations, ect.  Where are the demands for apologies and sponsors fleeing from them and front page news stories?  It's the hypocrisy and doublethink out of these people that makes them undeserving of any apology.
Thirdly, the people demanding the apology refuse to accept it.  Everywhere you look, commentators are saying Rush only apologized to save his show, it was meaningless, he was just lying.  I hate to break it to folks, but Rush could probably walk away from his show today and never have to look back financially.  His show is the top market share, and has a list of people wanting to be advertisers that runs around the block.  According to the man himself, some of the "leaving" sponsors have already asked to come back, and I'll bet a huge stack of bills that if you keep track of those lists of advertisers "blacklisting" Limbaugh, in six months to a year tops, they will be right back on the EIB network, because few companies, no matter what their professed political leanings may be, are going to turn their back on having their product exposed to that many people in one fell swoop.  Back on track, even Fluke herself, the only person the apology really should matter to, said it doesn't change anything, and she hopes Limbaugh doesn't try to contact her directly for a personal apology (See here)
Rush did the right thing.  I'm glad he did.  I'm glad he was a big enough man to overlook these and many other reasons that I'm sure he and others could think of and issue an apology for his words.  As an individual, the apology is always the right thing to do.  But I will say I think he could have used the opportunity to highlight the hypocrisy of his detractors as well as their pettiness.  Of course both shine through even in light of his apology.  But neither will garner anywhere near the attention of the event itself.