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Orlando and the human heart

You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.  – Rahm Emanuel

I have refrained from posting anything on Facebook regarding the Orlando massacre (and it justly deserves that name.) Most of it is either treacle or polemic, neither very enlightening. But I quote Mr. Emanuel for a reason. It seems that even before our nation has started to process the immensity of this act, the narrative has been seized upon as a platform to push various political agendas. I refuse to address any of them directly, but a short, incomplete list will suffice to give you the flavor:

  • LGBT
  • Gun control
  • Gun rights
  • Islamic barbarism
  • Islam, religion of peace
  • Border security
  • Anti-Trump
  • Anti-Obama

The real issue, and one that never occurs to the zealot, is that the human heart is inherently wicked. Many will nod in agreement, meanwhile believing their own hearts to be pure. This is the sin of pride, and a grave one it is. The moment we lose sight of our own fallen state, we cut ourselves off from the grace of God. Those who are well have no need of a physician.

C. S. Lewis spoke of it as “enmity to God.” There is an excerpt from Mere Christianity called “The Great Sin” and is worth reading. I could easily embed the entire thing but you can read it here. I will, however, quote it in part.

In God you come up against something that is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know your-self as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.

The quandary we find ourselves in is beyond challenging. Jesus said to love your enemies and He placed no limit on that definition. I confess that I continue to be filled with self-righteous rage every time I see images of 9/11. And I seek them out deliberately to arouse those feelings. I want to hate, and hate strongly. This is pride. This is the spirit of antichrist. And it was against that spirit that Jesus directed His angriest comments. It was the spirit of the Pharisees. We are no different, and painful as it is to say, it is Christians who often display this in the greatest measure.

What, then can we do? I think first of all, admit to ourselves that our anger is more a reflection of our pride than a justified response to inhuman brutality. It is only by accidents of birth and the power of the Holy Spirit that we do not do such things. Secondly, I think we need to earnestly confess this to God and, if you are Catholic, to humbly partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, what used to be called Confession. Most importantly, we should pray not only for those who suffered death and injury and for their families, but for the perpetrators as well. Their hearts are not beyond the reach of God’s healing Spirit and our intersession on their behalf is powerful and effective.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.- James 5:16
Having said all this, let me emphasize that I am nowhere near this degree of humility. I can see the way, but I despair of having the power to follow it. I only pray that God will impart to me by His grace the means to move forward.

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The day of consolidation has come.

For the last several years I have been blogging at friday600.blogspot.com. This was intended to carry on the tradition of an AA Big Book study started in Rochester Hills, Michigan back in the 90s. Since starting Verbus, I have decided that all that content could certainly find a home here and make this blog all the better for it.

I also had another blog called bbcatholics.blogspot.com intended to bring Catholic and Evangelicals into polite discussions. That content has be imported as well.

So welcome to the new improved Verbus. Please feel free to use the search feature to locate old posts you want to revisit, or to look up posts that may have some bearing on a subject that interests you. As time permits I will also be going back and adding category tags to old posts to make it easier to search by subject matter.

And please, please sign up as a subscriber and comment on the posts. I want to create a space for lively dialog on whatever topic interests my readers.

I have decided to keep on blogging, even if I find myself speaking to an empty auditorium. At least I’m keeping a journal now.

Hope to hear from you all.

 

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Opening thoughts, quirks and admonitions

So here I am again, firing up another blog. It can be said that one only fails when one stops trying. I’m still trying so I guess I’m not yet a failed “bloggist.” My other blogging experiences were frustrating. One was ignored (not uncommon) and the other was well-liked and read regularly. But I never received any comments. If I wanted to record my thoughts in a vacuum I could just have as easily done my writing in Word. But I want and need comments. So I depend on you who read this to contribute something, even if it’s just a brief note of approval/disapproval.

This particular blog grew out of the very pleasant exchanges I had over two years with my two speech therapists. I spent an hour twice a week hooked up to an electrical machine that still allowed me to talk. Very dangerous. Not the machine, of course. The part about allowing me to talk. And talk we did on a wide range of subjects. I know very, very little about many, many things and I am always keen on having an audience on which to demonstrate that. So our topics behaved like a non-linear system (which was, ironically, one of the topics), chaotic yet pleasantly so. We were usually around the areas of religion and spiritual development, science and math, and on rare occasions, politics as long as we agreed (which we did).

I assume that my two friends will be joining me here and hope that at least a few people will join us. Since the blog is private you won’t be able to find it by Googling it. Therefore I will need some word-of-mouth to add to our numbers. If you enjoy participating, invite your friends. Heck, invite your enemies. Sometimes they make some good points.

My friends are beginning a study of the book of John which is something about which I can say a few things . I don’t intend to do a detailed commentary. There are plenty out there to suit whatever hermeneutical inclinations you might have. I intend only to offer my limited understanding of Scripture in the hope that some light might arise both for me and my commentators.

I make no bones about my religious beliefs. I am Roman Catholic, a convert from a bible-believing Evangelical world. So I do know the book pretty well. I have no interest in converting anyone, and I’m willing to air all points of view. I won’t, however, allow this to become a debating society where more heat than light is generated. So feel free to strongly express your opinions. I will respect them, as I hope you will respect mine.

And so, as they say, on with the show. New post to follow soon.

 

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All things in moderation

Since this is my blog I am also the administrator. That means that I have the ability to moderate comments before they appear on the site. There are some discussion sites that block content they feel is not germane to their purposes. I suppose I would do the same if someone started directing their comment to unrelated issues such as politics or vegetarianism since this is not what we do. But I would never block content that challenged my beliefs or the beliefs of other commentators.

The only thing I insist on is civility and as open mind to other viewpoints. So I would like to propose some minimal ground rules.

  • No ad hominem posts. Please do not attack a person for what she or he says or believes.
  • No off-topic posts. Please address your comments to the actual matter at hand.
  • Please start your comments by stating something positive. You can almost always find common ground. And even if you can’t, you can thank the person and show that you understand their point of view.

I hope no one finds these guidelines onerous. I genuinely want my thinking to be challenged. I hope you each share that goal.


As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17 NIV

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